Halloween is just around the corner, and that means a lot of scary sugar. From parties, to trick-or-treating to grocery stores, candy can be found everywhere.
In fact, I started seeing big bags of candy on the grocery store shelves as early as August. As much as I love M&Ms and the occasional piece of candy corn, I know they are not healthy. The bakery aisles usually try to compete with their creatively decorated cakes, cookies, and cupcakes. Everywhere we turn, there seems to be items just leaping of the shelf and into our grocery cart!
Yes, we buy it for the adorable trick-or-treaters, yet somehow we always find ourselves mindlessly munching on these tempting treats. If you have children, it’s hard not having sweets in your house. For others, it’s about moderation and keeping it out of sight. For myself, there are parties, festivals, and other events, that just beg for the attention.
Stay on target with your healthy eating plan
Halloween is a festive holiday, and candy is to be enjoyed. But due to the rising rates of obesity, chronic disease, dental disease and lack of vital nutrients in the diet, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that sugar should be no more than 5% of an individual’s daily calories. That means elementary-school-aged children should limit their added sugar to no more than 15 grams a day and older elementary-school-aged children may be able to consume as much as 30 grams a day. What’s scary is that the fun-sized Snickers bar your child ate after school contains 17 grams of added sugar! That’s more sugar than a young child should consume in an entire day.
Moderation is key
Enjoy Halloween with your children, but carefully plan healthy eating habits ahead of time. I know this is a challenge; I used to sneak my leftover candy “stash” into my bedroom all the time! Teach sensible eating so your kids can make wise decisions when faced with an overwhelming amount of temptations. Also make sure your child gets a well-balanced meal before trick-or-treating; it’ll reduce the urge to snack afterwards.
Don’t be afraid to offer healthy trick-or-treat alternatives! As mentioned above, obesity rates are climbing at an alarmingly high rate; in fact, childhood obesity has doubled over the past 30 years. Healthier and fun options include 100-calorie packs, hard candy, Cracker Jacks, graham crackers, granola bars, or single-serving packs of hot chocolate or hot cider. You can also offer fun toys and old fashion games such as glow sticks, funny Halloween glasses, costume jewelry, pencils, coloring books, bubbles, or temporary tattoos.
I used to always get frustrated when my parents made me wait to eat my candy until after they inspected it. Rule of thumb — if the wrapper looks suspicious, tampered with or you’re not familiar with the brand, toss it! Another wise rule, let your child choose a few pieces of candy to eat on Halloween night and then a few pieces each day after that. Restriction can often backfire, leading to an obsession with candy. Use this time as an opportunity to teach about healthy, nutritious diets. Combine a miniature snack bar with a piece of fruit and then teach the benefits of the fruit while encouraging healthy eating habits.
Be a healthy host!
Finally, Halloween isn’t just for kids these days! Adults like to attend and host parties for friends and families. If hosting, incorporate other fall favorites, such as pumpkin, squash, apples, and other fresh produce. Check out Genesis PURE’s Pinterest page for some delicious, healthy food choices that all your guests will love!
How do you celebrate Halloween? Share your fun Halloween goodies below!
By Amy Kurtz BA, BS, Certified Health Coach, CI-CPT
Wellness Education Specialist